Monthly Archives: December 2009

Beautiful Grace

Mei Yun 2009









I have been moved tremendously by grace this year. This has been a year I would not want to repeat, but one for which I am sure I will look back on as a year I grew tremendously.

This was a year that I struggled with depression, culminating in surviving unharmed from a patient who tried to attack me and broke through a door, leaving me shaken but unharmed. I needed some months to heal from this. But through the healing process, I rediscovered my longing to write about and publish one of my manuscripts on creativity and faith. It is my plan to begin work on the editing and submission process after putting together a show at Bethlehem Lutheran Church here in January 2010.  In rediscovering this dream (to write and hopefully publish), I have rediscovered a joy and a new purpose, which is giving me renewed energy.  I can’t wait to work on the manuscript for Art as Prayer.

This was my second year that I sold no artwork, though I believe that my work has grown in spite of it all. I am learning to be faith-full while being faithful to create art when there is no evidence to validate me for making it.  I am continuing to press on and create in spite of what is going on around me economically.  The local economy here in Michigan rose to 15%, and I feel fortunate to be working and not trying to make a living from painting sales. Galleries are closing in the city, and things are rough. We will see who survives this period.

This was a year in which I found a new passion: leading drum circles.   While I am no dancer, the pulse of making music with strangers is somehow incrediby appealing to me.  Drawing drum songs out of people is an art form I am just starting to see the potential for.  I am beginning to experiment with and explore how to take this music making format and use it in a worship context. I have people who mentor me now. My wife, children, and parents give me their support and encouragement, and I am blessed because of this.

My life has not been easy this year, but I have much to be thankful for. God has been good to me, and I experience his beautiful grace in my life. I am truly rich.

Beautiful Sadness

Snowy PineI am feeling so calm right now, like I am happy, and at the same time want to cry. Happy tears. Some kind of deep goodness has found a resting place in my heart.

Today for group therapy, my plans were not working out. I could not get the printer to work for some reason, and it didn’t feel like the kind of day suitable to lead a drumming group. The ground is covered with a thick blanket of snow, the wind is whipping up spirals of white powder and hurling them through the air. The earth seems still – even in the hospital.

So today I decided to punt.

I love punting. I believe that intuition is a beautiful thing – doing what feels right. The moment seemed like everyone was calm and I did not want to break this sensability. So, with the grey light of winter filtering the sunlight through the windows of the dining room, I and another staff put on a small concert for the patients in the hospital. I played the upright piano we have on the unit. I played a tender song, softly, but with feeling. No one moved.

We talked after I played about what their imaginations did while I was playing. They spoke about calm, peace, and one patient said that she heard beauty with a touch of sadness. Another patient said that she cried at one point.

This was all in response to spontaneous improvisational music that just poured out of my heart. I think there is a line in scripture that says “Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.” My heart was overflowing into my fingers, and I feel that God used this.

It is so moving to me when these kinds of moments happen. I feel glad to be alive. I feel a kind of profound and quiet joy that makes me feel like being still.